19 Jun, 2019
Diana Dawson is one of the first cohort of students to go through the WATT program, and is currently working as a pre-apprentice with IBEW 230 employer, SASCO Contractors Ltd in Victoria, BC. The WATT Program, is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Skilled Trades Awareness and Readiness program and the Western Joint Electrical Training Society (WJETS). The program, which is also supported by the Construction Foundation of BC, works with IBEW signatory contractors to help participants overcome barriers to entering the electrical trade, to set them up to successfully complete the trade school component of an apprenticeship.
“There’s a ton of support from WATT,” said Dawson, “I’ve always been interested in the trades, but never really had an ‘in’. [WATT] did a really good job of explaining the trades in a way that everyone could understand.”
Executive Director of WJETS, Adrien Livingston, explained that the WATT program has successfully put through the first cohort of students, in strong collaboration with signatory contractor partners to ensure the students coming through the program get the upskills training needed to meet the needs of the employer.
“The employer feedback and participation has been great. It really sets the students up for success.” said Livingston. “We have 100% of our students from the first cohort currently employed, and we are putting through the second cohort of students right now.”
Attracting people to the trades, especially to meet the growing shortage and demands of the industry, continues to be a challenge. Alternative pathways to the trades, designed to breakdown entry barriers and focusing on applied skills and support for essential skills gives more people a fair shot at a long and rewarding career in the skilled trades.
“The next steps for WATT is to go mobile,” said Livingston.
Large projects that include Community Benefit Agreements create pathways to bring underrepresented groups to the trades.
“When a large project, like the LNG is taking place and there is a requirement to hire local, WATT can then come in with mobile training and train people right in their communities. This further eliminates barriers and opens the doors to a career in skilled trades,” said Livingston.
Diana, a young Metis woman, is currently employed full-time, and loving it. “I would never go back. I don’t regret it for a single day. I think it’s the most amazing decision I ever made. I can’t wait to see it through and actually get my ticket.”